The government has said that it will examine proposals made by Philip Hammond, the transport secretary, to raise the speed limit on Britain’s motorways. Mr Hammond said that the 70mph restriction needed to be revised because huge advances in technology meant that cars were now capable of driving at higher speeds safely.
He pointed out that the 70mph limit, which was introduced in 1965, had become somewhat irrelevant as many of the countries motorists break it when travelling on the motorway. Mr Hammond wants to see the limit increased to 80mph and claims that doing so also made sense for the country’s economy. He said that millions would be saved by shortening journey times.
However, some groups have already started to criticise Mr Hammond’s suggestion. Brake, a road safety charity, said that it was inevitable that any increase in speed would lead to more deaths on the road.
Campaign for Better Transport said the plans were an empty gesture for drivers. Chief executive, Stephen Joseph, explained that an increase in speed meant an increase in fuel consumption which would not be good for the environment or for motorists’ wallets. He added that higher speeds would mean more casualties.
RAC Foundation director, Professor Stephen Glaister, said there were positive and negative aspects to pushing the limit up to 80mph. He said it was true that motorists would get where they needed to be in a shorter time but that an increase of 10mph would result in 20 per cent more fuel being burnt which means 20 per cent more pollution.